Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday asked Riyadh to prove his claim that Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi had left the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Khashoggi was previously declared missing since last week.
The loss of Khashoggi, who was once an editor of a leading newspaper in Saudi Arabia, has sparked global concerns. Some sources in Turkey said authorities believed Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate.
Khashoggi left Saudi Arabia last year. He said he was concerned about threats due to his sharp criticism of Saudi policy in the Yemeni war and Saudi oppression of dissent within the country.
Khashoggi was known to enter the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Tuesday (2/10) to get documents for his marriage plans. Saudi officials say Khashoggi left shortly afterwards. But his fiancee, who was waiting outside the consulate building, said he had never left.
"We must get the results of this investigation as soon as possible. Consulate officials cannot save themselves simply by saying 'he (Khashoggi) has gone'," Erdogan told a news conference in Budapest.
Erdogan, who said he personally continued to follow the case, added Turkey had no documents or evidence of the case. Two Turkish sources told the Turkish government Khashoggi was allegedly deliberately killed inside the consulate. A similar view was also expressed by one of Erdogan's advisers, Yasin Aktay, who was also a close friend of Khashoggi.
Saudi officials at the consulate denied Khashoggi was killed inside the building and said the allegations were baseless. The consulate also denied Khashoggi had been kidnapped.
NTV reported on Monday (8/10), Turkey had requested permission to investigate at the consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul. A Turkish official also said the Saudi Arabian envoy to Ankara had been summoned to the foreign ministry for the second time on Sunday (7/10).
"It has been conveyed to him that we expect full coordination in the investigation process," the official said.
On Sunday (7/10), Erdogan said authorities would examine surveillance cameras at the airport as part of the investigation process. The Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul has allowed Reuters reporters to enter the building on Saturday (6/10) in an effort to show Khashoggi is not there.
President of the United States (US) Donald Trump also expressed concern about his administration over the disappearance of Khashoggi. He claimed to be deeply disturbed by reports about the fate of the journalist.
"I am worried about that. I don't like hearing about it. And hopefully the problem can be solved. Now nobody knows about the case, but there are some bad stories that are heard. I don't like that," Trump told reporters at White House.
Khashoggi is often seen on political talk shows on Arabic satellite television networks as guest stars. He has also been an adviser to Prince Turki al-Faisal, former intelligence chief, and Saudi ambassador to the US and Britain.
This case might deepen the divisions between Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Their relations have been stretched after Turkey sent troops to Qatar last year after a number of countries, including Saudi Arabia, imposed an embargo on Doha.